The University of Akron will have new deans leading two of its five colleges, with one an unconventional pick and the other historic.
Emily Janoski-Haehlen has been named dean of the University of Akron School of Law, beginning Feb. 21, pending approval by the board of trustees. She will be the first woman to permanently hold the job of dean of the law school.
Also pending trustee approval, Robert J. “R.J.” Nemer, a non-academic sports agency founder with a law degree, will be the new dean of the College of Business, starting Jan. 31.
Janoski-Haehlen and Nemer are two of three deans to be named since the university merged from 11 colleges down to five in 2020. Mitchell S. McKinney was named dean of the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences in January 2021.
Janoski-Haehlen has been with the university since 2017, currently serving as associate dean of academic affairs and law technology programs, as well as director of the Law Library.
Two other women have served as interim dean of the law school, but Janoski-Haehlen will be the first woman named to the position permanently in its 100-year history.
“I’m incredibly proud of of that,” she said. “And I’m just so excited about the support that I’ve received from the University of Akron law community, from the alumni.”
Janoski-Haehlen studied history and chemistry as an undergraduate before going to law school. Her research has focused on social media law, internet privacy, legal research instruction strategies and technology in the practice of law.
Through the pandemic, Janoski-Haehlen said she watched legal education change in ways that could be scalable in the future, including a greater emphasis on technology, her area of expertise.
“We’re more flexible,” she said. “It’s more affordable. It’s data enhanced. It’s results driven.”
Janoski-Haehlen said she also is committed to push for more diversity among law students and the faculty, but beyond that, for more cultural education.
“I don’t think it’s just a matter of, you bring in a diverse pool of students, and then everything’s great, right?” she said. “We need to have some education, and not just for our students while they’re in law school, but when they graduate, because their clients are going to be from diverse backgrounds.”
She’s also excited to partner with Nemer, given his legal education and professional background in the business world.
“We need to think about those skills that we haven’t taught in the past, like collaboration and empathy and client management, customer service, cultural awareness, just things that are not part of a traditional legal education,” she said. “And I think having someone’s perspective from the business world will be incredibly helpful with adding that to our curriculum.”
Nemer, a Walsh Jesuit High School graduate, earned both his undergraduate degree in business administration and his law degree from Akron, the latter in 1995. He worked as an estate tax attorney before moving to the world of professional sports in 1998, when he started his own sports agency. He sold the firm to William Morris Endeavor/IMG in 2015 and assumed global leadership of the company’s IMG Golf brand.
Just before the pandemic, Nemer made a move to become the chief marketing officer for MAI Capital Management in Cleveland.
But he’s always wanted to teach, he said. When he heard about the open dean position, he thought it was worth a shot to throw his name in the hat. Nemer previously taught as an adjunct at Akron in the spring of 2010 and fall of 2011 but has not otherwise served on a university or college faculty.
“Certainly, I’m unconventional,” Nemer said. He’s never evaluated a professor for tenure, he noted, or conducted the kind of research a professor would. But it’s not an unnatural segue from his career as an entrepreneur, he said.
“The College of Business is a business,” Nemer said. “It’s about producing a superior project, it’s about producing a well-equipped young person to go out into the world, and then it’s about messaging those success stories and being a champion in terms of your success stories.”
Nemer said he sees Akron as a place where students can receive individual attention and have all their needs met to produce a well-rounded graduate.
“The product is phenomenal at Akron U,” he said. “Let’s get that message out not only in Northeast Ohio but nationally and globally, and let’s share our success stories and let’s keep our local talent, our local young students here to go to school. And then let’s keep them here to develop their careers. That’s something I’ve always been passionate about.”
Contact education reporter Jennifer Pignolet at [email protected], at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.